In a word - YES. And that’s not our opinion, it’s based on Nobel prize-winning science.
When it comes to fasting and its health effects, the concept you need to understand is Autophagy.
Japanese cell biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2016 for his research on how cells recycle and renew their content - this process is called autophagy.
Fasting activates autophagy, which helps slow down the aging process and has a positive impact on cell renewal.
What is Autophagy?
Simply put, if you don’t give your body food, its starts looking for food within and does some ‘recycling’ for you!
During starvation, cells break down proteins and other cell components and use them for energy. During autophagy, cells destroy viruses and bacteria and get rid of damaged structures. It’s a process that is critical for cell health, renewal, and survival.
Here’s a visual that should help:
Scientists have found that fasting for 12+ to 24+ hours triggers autophagy, and is thought to be one of the reasons that fasting is associated with people who live longer. There is a large body of research that connects fasting with improved blood sugar control, reduced inflammation, weight loss, and improved brain function. Oshumi’s research (for which he won a Nobel) provides some of the “how” to this research.
IF is not new
Intermittent fasting is not a new thing. Humans have fasted for most of their history, whether it’s during the typical overnight period (between dinner and breakfast), during more extended periods of food scarcity, or for religious reasons.
What is new is that clinical research on IF’s benefits for health and longevity is beginning to catch up.
Most of the research to date has been done using animal models.
Right now, based on the available research, we’re left with far more questions about IF than answers. Nothing is definitive.
Should you try it?
I would say Yes, as an experiment.
- Fasting for 12+hrs has been shown to have health benefits (as noted above).
- Trial fasting is a great way to practice managing hunger. This is an essential skill for anyone who wants to get in shape and stay healthy and fit.
For these two reasons alone, a trial fast is a worthwhile experiment.
IF can make life easier in other ways too - lesser meal planning, lesser time and cost to cook, and it can simplify your day.
You may already be doing it!
The truth is, you may already be practicing some form of Intermittent Fasting!.Think about it. If:
- you finish your dinner by 9 pm;
- get to bed without any night-time snacking; and
- have your breakfast at 9am the next morning
you've just completed a 12-hour fast!
If you'd like to give IF a try, this is a good place to start - a 12-hour fast. Feel free to start with a shorter period if that's easier for you - say a 9 or 10-hour fast and increase it gradually.
It's common for people to fast for religious reasons for even longer periods. That's IF too.
You may also want to read:
- Is it bad to lose a lot of weight quickly?
- Is any belly fat ok or all bad?
- What is the 'keto' diet and should you try it?
Image source: Alison Mackey/Discover Magazine